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Old 04-08-2010, 01:55 AM   #1
HighGravity
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Default Location of various substances in fermentor?

I was wondering if there are some general locations of Co2 gas, alcohol, and unfermented wort when brewing with ale yeast. As I brew at 16-22 C I only use dry yeast, 15 grams Coopers or occasionally champage yeast.

From my understanding, inside a carboy or bucket there is completely full of Co2 in the airspace, with any excess vented out the top, then below that is a high alcohol layer, then below that is the unfermented wort/less alcoholic wort.Is this a fairly accurate understanding?

The reason I'm asking is I am adding more and more whole hops to my brews nowadays, and I was thinking that a heavy layer of floating hops/high alcohol solution sitting on top of my bucket with no airlock should be fine to stop the nasties coming in for a month. But then I thought: why does anyone use air locks at all when there are all these people who brew only in their primary buckets for a month, then bottle from there?

Also, if there is a top layer of alcohol and you are using like 10 ounces of hops that float on the top, should you try to squeeze the liquid out of that huge mass of hops somehow when racking?



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Old 04-08-2010, 03:10 AM   #2
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yeast#Beer

The top/bottom fermenting yeast is kind of a misnomer. There is co2 filled in the headspace and it is also absorbed in the wort itself as well, if you ferment in a clear container you will see that the wort looks like an overcarbed bottle bomb fizzing over. The alcohol is produced fairly evenly throughout the beer does not 'rise to the top'


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Old 04-08-2010, 01:17 PM   #3
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The headspace is mostly CO2. The rest of the liquid is pretty much homogenous. Ethanol is miscible in water, so there are no layers.

You should not "squeeze" the hops (I assume you are dry hopping) to remove residual beer. Losing some beer to dry hopping is an inevitability. And, 10 oz of hops? I have never heard of anyone using that much outside of a 10 gal batch of imperial IPA.

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Old 04-08-2010, 01:28 PM   #4
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why not just use an airlock? they are like one dollar a piece.

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Old 04-08-2010, 04:41 PM   #5
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A layer of CO2 is not going to stop anaerobic environment loving bacteria such as Lactobacillis from penetrating your wort. Or fruit flies. Or roaches. Or ants. The airlock is about keeping the bugs out, big and small.

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Old 04-08-2010, 09:46 PM   #6
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Greenbirds - I recently had an imperial IPA that was hopped with 16 ounces of hops. It was ok in hoppiness, but next to another IPA that had only 8 ounces it was not as strongly flavored. Myself I just use 2-5 ounces per batch as they are pretty cheap. Beer costs a fortune up here in BC, so if I spend 40% of what a good microbrew costs I am content.

My question about the airlock, or rather lack of it, was "How do all these experienced brewers get away with not using one, just a few weeks in a primary bucket and then bottle?"

I figured the wort would be ok until fermentation slowed down and krausen dropped, but some people just keep it there for a few more weeks. Maybe I misunderstood and there are things as primaries with airlocks???

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Old 04-08-2010, 10:28 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HighGravity View Post
Greenbirds - I recently had an imperial IPA that was hopped with 16 ounces of hops. It was ok in hoppiness, but next to another IPA that had only 8 ounces it was not as strongly flavored. Myself I just use 2-5 ounces per batch as they are pretty cheap. Beer costs a fortune up here in BC, so if I spend 40% of what a good microbrew costs I am content.

My question about the airlock, or rather lack of it, was "How do all these experienced brewers get away with not using one, just a few weeks in a primary bucket and then bottle?"

I figured the wort would be ok until fermentation slowed down and krausen dropped, but some people just keep it there for a few more weeks. Maybe I misunderstood and there are things as primaries with airlocks???
Yes, most primary buckets have a grommeted lid that you put an airlock into:
http://www.northernbrewer.com/brewing/brewing-equipment/fermenting-equipment/buckets/grommeted-lid-for-6-5-gal.html

Some people get away with aluminum foil instead of a lid. I've done that successfully a few times, but stopped when I found a fly floating in one batch.
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Old 04-08-2010, 10:37 PM   #8
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I'm confused... even people who just ferment in a primary bucket have an airlock, right?

This thread seems to equate "bucket" with "no airlock", and that's what I don't get.

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Old 04-09-2010, 12:43 AM   #9
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yes...all primaries have airlocks...

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Old 04-09-2010, 12:49 AM   #10
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I use secondaries. :p
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Well, I know they do in my brewery... They've been that way for over a decade.

... But read the earlier posts in here.

Its mentioned that (paraphrasing) "some guys just ferment in the primaries for two weeks, so why do you even need an airlock?"

I'm trying to understand what the previous poster was talking about with that comment.



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